Living With the Past
If these walls could talk, they'd solve a Maya mystery.
Five years ago Lucas Asicona Ramírez (far right, pictured with family) began scraping his walls while renovating his home in the Guatemalan village of Chajul. As the plaster fell away, a multi-wall Maya mural saw light for the first time in centuries, according to archaeologist Jarosław Źrałka, who recently revealed the finds to National Geographic News.
The paintings depict figures in procession, wearing a mix of traditional Maya and Spanish garb. Some may be holding human hearts, said Źrałka, who was working on the other side of Guatemala when a colleague tipped him off to the kitchen murals.
The recent exposure has faded the art considerably, leaving precious little time to unlock their secrets, he added.
That the paintings endure at all is "a fairly remarkable thing," according to Boston University archaeologist William Saturno, who examined pictures of the murals at National Geographic News's request and believes the art to be authentic.
"We don't get a lot of this type of artwork; it's not commonly preserved in the New World," said Saturno, a National Geographic grantee. "It'd be neat to see who the folks were who painted on the wall and why."